Glen Armstrong holds an MFA in English from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and teaches writing at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. He edits a poetry journal called Cruel Garters and has two new chapbooks: Simpler Times and Staring Down Miracles. His work has appeared in Poetry Northwest, Conduit, and Cream City Review.
The Creature in Me
Wish hard enough, and the heart grows its own face: a mouth always singing opera through the curtains of a partially buttoned shirt, nose flattened against the breast plate’s candy store window. The heart becomes that face: a caged human oddity a pitiful thing with no toes or fingers, a wild monologue in the dark. I deserve, at least, my dignity. A single glass of red wine. A good night’s sleep. But the little beast keeps calling to that olive-skinned woman whose long, black hair ignites her bare shoulders: Break me out of this dolt. Hold me in your hand. All night long: Love me.
Her dimensions fit the world and beyond. Reality TV has expressed interest. She is porous. I never know if I am with or within. At home, she sleeps in the sink. She seasons her sweet potato hash and laughs at the neighbors when they drink too much and try to pronounce her name. Billy Bob Thornton has no answer for the kid who wants to know how someone could drop him on his own head, but she sits him down, gives him an Oh Henry! bar, and tells him.
Reportage becomes story Story legend Before long the bloody war That captured our imagination Is reenacted Likewise the facts of life As the sixth-grade Health instructor calls them Turn wildly fictive Incubated in whispers The girls on the playground Skip rope chanting As if to a discredited deity Miss Lucy has a baby It swims like a little fish And the boys cut themselves Out of whales The taste of blood and semen Admittedly this Seems a little advanced For the school yard But over the hill and far away The village elders salvage zippers From tuxedo pants.